Friday, April 12, 2013
I've decided to start documenting my predictions, because when it comes to the technology, I seem to have a knack for it. Call it common sense, intuition or just a gut feeling, I seem to be able to get it right quite a bit.
Some past predictions:
The gaming industry will have a major shift away from retail titles into more digital titles (predicted circa, 2008). I first predicted within a year, but then realizing how things move I extended my forecast to 2 years.
I will now make another prediction about the new video game consoles coming out of Microsoft and Sony, DOA, yes "Dead On Arrival". Nintendo WiiU/3DS and other consoles are going the way to of the dinosaur. Yes there may be still some hardcore gamers that will buy the systems, but in general it won't be enough to support a profitable business. Nintendo will shift focus to strictly software and eventually get out of the hardware business (prediction: about 2015 or so).
The reasoning behind all this? Simple, time. People have less and less time to spend on video games. They have to sneak in time here and there. The younger generation is using portable devices, but they are multi-use. Parents hand their kids their iPhone or their iPad and have games & educational titles on it. This exposes the kids at an early age in using portable devices. Apple has a pretty good foothold on this market.
I predicted the slow adoption of Windows 7 and what I see as a complete failure of Windows 8 and the Microsoft PC business. I fully predicted that this wouldn't be a success. I don't think it will kill Microsoft, but it is going to reduce their total earnings. That coupled with the decline in XBOX 360 sales and the failure of "XBOX 720" will probably reduce their earnings by at least 30-40%. They will survive, because they have lots of cash in the bank and are entrenched in enterprise and server side software. But that will soon change also. I will talk about that more later.
Apple and Samsung - Continue to split the market. Apple has made a business out of fantastic user interfaces and ease of use. I used to be a hardcore PC user and when the Macbook Pro and Air came out and I could use bootcamp for Windows, I got rid of all my PCs. My Macbook Air is not a real monster powerhouse, but it's good enough for what I need to do, which is a lot more than the average user would use it for. The only thing that can hinder Apple at this point is pricing. They get a premium for their products and I am willing to pay for it, for now.
Now comes a bold prediction, at least I believe it is. A certain company is quietly eating away at all of the above mentioned companies. They are are missing a couple key ingredients, but are partnering with the right companies. Who is it you may ask? Amazon. Amazon has become an under the radar powerhouse in different areas that will help propel the company to a new level.
Amazon EC2 and other systems are their cloud based servers that allow you to run instances of your own servers on their hardware. No more hardware maintenance for you. You can install Windows Server or Linux on your server and setup a really good system without the investment in hardware. The only downside is you are at the mercy of Amazon's infrastructure. But so far, so good.
Now along comes the Kindle, Kindle Fire and they just released tablets that rival the iPad 3 with retina display and it's cheaper. It's Android based, so they've partnered with Google. While I'm not a huge fan of some of the decisions that Google made with respect to Android OS, it is getting better. Also, Google did release their Native Development Kit, which helps overcome some of the problems with speed by using C++ and also allows easier porting of applications to the system.
I mentioned their were a couple of areas that Amazon is missing. The first being the OS. Being beholden to others for an OS can be very cumbersome. Google has mitigated this problem a little by allows hardware vendors to modify the OS for their hardware. It does make and engineers job much harder however. The second area is the phone area. Samsung rules the Android phone market. This is mainly because of the Asian market, but is had spilled over into the U.S. market.
But this is possibly a good strategy for Amazon. Let Samsung borne the cost of the phone hardware and Amazon will have and end to end solution for the software. Software is where the money is made anyway. For instance take a multiplayer game on Android. You can play it on a Kindle, Kindle Fire, etc. To download and pay for the game you can use Google Play or Amazon Appstore for Android. Even if the game is put in both places, you can use the backend servers of Amazon for the multiplayer part of the game. Now Amazon has you using their hardware, possibly their app market and their backend, taking a piece of the pie in each step. And I for one am more than willing to pay for this.
It's going to take a couple years (probably until 2015), but I predict Amazon is going to become a big winner. Google and Samsung will remain strong, albeit in more a niche sort of way. The big losers will be Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo all will have diminishing returns upwards of 40%.
The only twist to this is if one of the majors decides to make an all in one system that is open to all developers to develop for. They would then have to make a profit on the hardware or really put out some killer games for the hardware. I would definitely pay $299-$399 for a product that can play Blu-Ray, allow PS/3/4 games to be played, surf the web, play back my music, be a home based cloud server that connects to my Android/iPhone to retrieve movies/music/pictures and was easily upgradeable to large hard disks of my own choosing. That would be the panacea of a home entertainment system. Sony, Microsoft, you guys listening? No, how about Amazon? They would be perfect for this.
I will update predictions when I see them. If for no other reason to document what I think is going to happen in the market and revisit to see if I am right.